The crack is spreading again. A spiderweb of impossible fractures long since grown beyond the frame of their mirror, it spreads like a festering mold through the skin of the world, splitting rooms and corridors and people. She knows she can’t stop it, but at least she can slow it down, make it work to claim her, in the end that has to count for something right?
By day, she duels the glass, slowly giving ground in an endless series of doomed skirmishes. Her world is collapsing around her, fragmenting and unfolding in a kaleidoscope migraine of tripwire reflections, spaces replicating and duplicating, shearing apart into broken doubles and hungry fakes.
Her wards are strained to red and failing one by one. The safe zones are shrinking. Last week, the supermarket was still survivable, today it’s a charnel house of doppelgangers beaconing her down nonexistent aisles to slaughterhouse corridors of whirling chainsaw blades.
The park is losing a foot of ground to the mirror each day and the alley where she used to talk to birds has either been crushed by a fold in spacetime or transformed into a construction site. It won’t be much longer before she won’t be able to leave her neighborhood.
The magic is holding for now, but she knows it won’t last forever, the idlewilds are constantly tunneling in, flickers of motion at the edge of her vision, momentary shimmers of a shape lunging towards her up the stairwell.
Her girlfriends tell her it’s just a trick of the light, it wasn’t really a horrific lumbering rape scribble, it was really just a dirty plushie of unknown origins dripping in foul black fluids which had spontaneously appeared there. Wait no, that’s not right either. She squeezes her eyes closed, and the world corrects itself, she recognizes the potted plant now, it’s one she’s had for three years. How much longer will that trick work? The stars are already returning to the corners of her eyes.
At night, she dreams of geometry. She wanders a fractal mashup of familiar places capgras foldbacked into a nightmarish infinity tunnel of schools, hospitals, malls, offices, college campuses, airports, train stations, and concrete plazas. She dreams of liminal spaces and glitched physics, of abstract shapes in unreal colors, of hallways screaming as they’re forced through traumatic mitosis. She dreams of pain in flavors she can’t describe, even to her waking memory.
The people are worse, smiling amalgamations of friends and family, imperfect duplications made of wrongness and malice. They want her world, her life, her soul, and they’re going to take it. They’re going to take everything from her. They’re going to steal her existence and there’s nothing she can do about it, so of course they’re rather cheerful. They’re going to win. They know it and she knows it. Still, as long as she doesn’t pay too much attention to them in the dreams, they won’t start actively hunting her. She knows how to keep her head down and wait for morning, she’s been doing it for long enough now.
Despite her best efforts, the miasma of despair is setting in. They’re coming for her, the cracks are spreading and the idlewilds are tunneling deeper, persisting in reality for longer and longer before vanishing. Fingers and faces press against the skin of the world, appearing as momentary impressions in windows and mirrors. They’re going to break through. They are already breaking through. It’s only a matter of time before they consume everything she loves. She’ll fight and fight and fight, and in the end, despite everything, she’ll lose, and those hungry things will claim her too.
But not today. Today she’s sitting on a blanket on the beach. Today she feels the sun on her skin, the wind blowing clean white sand against her face. Today she’s laughing and smiling while rorschach inkblots spread protectively across the sky and shield her from a hungrily groping beyond. Today she’s teasing her girlfriend and infodumping about mycology. Today she’s happy. Today she’s safe. Today she’s free.
And in the end, that has to count for something right?